Kenneth Cobb

Sloan Public Service Awards • 2023

Title and Organization Assistant Commissioner, NYC Department of Records & Information Services


Kenneth Cobb was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. He loved history at an early age—and that love turned into a career when he explored the Municipal Archives as a Columbia University graduate student. He began volunteering at the Archives in 1977 and has held several roles over 44 years there, culminating in his present post as the Assistant Commissioner. He has been instrumental in turning the Municipal Archives at the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) into the largest local government archive in North America and a vital, highly accessible resource for professional and amateur researchers worldwide. He monitors the response to queries for information and services; negotiates license agreements for all uses of DORIS materials; appraises records for archival value; conducts specialized research for the mayor’s office, executive office, and patrons; and much more. Over his decades of service, Mr. Cobb has identified and transferred more than 120,000 cubic feet and over 300 terabytes of records to the Archives collections. He has been honored by many organizations, including the New York Academy of History and the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York. “The first thing you notice about the New York City Municipal Archives is that they’re so open and welcoming—so generously helpful,” said SUNY Purchase College history professor Lisa Keller. “And that’s because of Ken Cobb. He created that environment throughout his long career with DORIS. He has not only been critical in transforming the Municipal Archives—he’s transformed the model of what archives should be.”